First Im­pres­sions

How award-win­ning comic artist Colleen Do­ran was in­spired by a royal.

ImagineFX - - Contents - Colleen is a writer and artist, cur­rently work­ing on projects for Dark Horse, DC Comics and Im­age Comics. See more of her art at www.colleen­do­ Colleen Do­ran

What was your child­hood like?

I grew up in a small city in the Amer­i­can south. I spent a lot of time wan­der­ing in the woods and be­ing around an­i­mals, work­ing at a vet from child­hood, and work­ing on peace­ful farm­land, in a time of po­lit­i­cal and so­cial tur­moil. I was in my first race riot when I was about six. Felons would show up at our house. It was in­ter­est­ing.

What, out­side of art, has most in­flu­enced your art­work?

The coun­try­side. Found a bunch of sketches in my files go­ing back to when I was around ten. They’re all stud­ies of birds and plants.

You’re a child, you see a paint­ing or draw­ing that changes ev­ery­thing… what are you look­ing at?

Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant strips in the Sun­day news­pa­per. I couldn’t be­lieve how beau­ti­fully drawn they were. Even when I was a lit­tle kid I was at­tracted to nat­u­ral­ism over car­toony art.

What was your next step in art?

I saw Sleep­ing Beauty and thought how won­der­ful it would be to be a Dis­ney an­i­ma­tor. I won some con­tests when I was a lit­tle girl, but the school teach­ers could be very ob­struc­tive. Ev­ery time you drew some­thing or wrote some­thing, they wanted to know how you faked it, or copied it. Any­thing out of the or­di­nary must be a trick.

My par­ents were very sup­port­ive though, and bought me The Art of Walt Dis­ney, and real art pa­per. We didn’t have a lot of money, so that was a stretch for them. I thought I might be a doc­tor, be­cause it didn’t re­ally click with me that peo­ple made art for a liv­ing. But when I got sick at age 12, a fam­ily friend gave me a big box of comic books. I’d seen comic books be­fore, but never had the money to buy them. Now I had a few hun­dred of them! I then de­cided to be­come a car­toon­ist.

Does one per­son stand out as be­ing help­ful dur­ing your early years?

When I was a kid I met artist Frank Kelly Freas at a sci-fi con­ven­tion. A Big Name Fan Artist was diss­ing me, and told Kelly not to waste his time with me, but Kelly blew him off. Later Kelly asked me to visit him at his stu­dio and visit. I got to work there and spend a lot of time with him. When his wife died, I took care of him. He gave me a lot of art sup­plies and ref­er­ence.

How much does graphic de­sign play a part in your comic art?

I think of the sto­ry­telling first, not de­sign. Maybe that’s not a good thing, and I try to study de­sign more th­ese days, but I’m al­ways think­ing first in terms of what does the pic­ture con­vey, in terms of the story.

What comic char­ac­ter that you’ve painted do you most iden­tify with?

I don’t know if I iden­tify with any­one I paint. I try not to project my­self on to char­ac­ters who aren’t me. I try to make them in­di­vid­u­als and not just my ego pro­jec­tions. I iden­tify with a char­ac­ter I write, though, but he’s not an ego pro­jec­tion ei­ther, I hope.

What gripes do you have about the comics in­dus­try right now?

It’s still pretty ex­ploita­tive in many ways, and it can be harsh. There’s a lot of talk about cre­ator rights, but in some cases it’s just a mar­ket­ing tool. It’s hard for be­gin­ners to tell the dif­fer­ence and I worry for them.

Why is it still the best place to work?

I don’t know that it is, it’s just that I want to make comics, and that’s why I’m here.

I was in my first race riot when I was about six. Felons would show up at our house

TROLL BRIDGE FILES “Art from Neil Gaiman’s Troll Bridge, pub­lished by Dark Horse Comics. I did this in pen­cil, then used dig­i­tal colours, on hand­made pa­per with an oil emul­sion.” Lost Souls 1-2 “From The Book of Lost Souls by J Michael Straczyn­ski. It’s a pen and ink piece.” A DIS­TANT SOIL “I did this in pen and ink, and cre­ated the let­ter­ing by hand on Bristol board.”

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